HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Ideas for a Brown Bag Breakfast

I'd appreciate it if I could pick your brains for a moment.

Later this week I'm doing a sleep test, and if they don't find anything remarkable, I'll be held over for a daytime sleep test. Instructions from the clinic say I need to pack breakfast, lunch and snacks to hold me until 4pm, and that I must eat a filling breakfast and lunch so that hunger doesn't skew the results.

Lunch and snacks, no problem. Got those covered with a sandwich I'll make on site plus cheese and crackers. But breakfast? I've never packed a breakfast before, so that's got me a bit stumped. I could just do Cheerios, blueberries and milk, but don't think that'll hold me while I sit there bored all morning.

No deliveries or running out for to-go items are allowed, whatever I eat has to be brought in the night before (has to do with them doing a drug screen upon check-in, and if they allowed visitors or patients to leave during the tests, it could compromise the protocols). Cooking facilities are limited to their fridge and microwave.

The pamphlet I was given suggested bringing in one of those frozen breakfast entrees, but I think I'd rather starve than eat micro'd scrambled eggs. I pretty much enjoy all of the standard breakfast items. French toast came to mind, it's easy to prepare and pack into a container, but would probably end up dry and unappetizing once it's reheated.

What do you think? Thanks in advance for your input.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. can you buy/make a breakfast quiche? easy enough to nuke.... or eat at room temp.
    or you could just pack some laughing cow, some crackers, a hard-boiled egg, banana, yogurt...

    2 Replies
    1. re: mariacarmen

      Oh, quiche might be a good idea. I wonder if I could get away with making an individual one in one of my Corningware Grab-It dishes.

      I'm going to be bringing an orange and grapefruit cut into supremes with some red grapes, so quiche could go well with that.

      1. re: RelishPDX

        I bet quiche would work perfectly in a Grab-It dish. I make mini-quiche all the time in ramekins and muffin tins and love to eat them cold (or room temp) for breakfast.

        The other thing that comes to mind is a breakfast burrito-type thing. When I was going to school I used to get these wraps from a coffee shop near campus. They called them "burritos" but they were actually more like frittatas in a tortilla. Chunks of vegetables -- potato, sweet potato, onion, asparagus, peppers -- held together by egg and cheese and wrapped up in a flour tortilla. They were always pre-made and surprisingly good at room temperature. I'm not sure how they kept them from getting soggy, but you could bring the frittata portion in a container, heat up the tortilla in the microwave and assemble when you're ready to eat it.

    2. You could make a breakfast tortilla with egg, cheese, ham or bacon and wrap it in foil. You could always take already cooked oatmeal that only needs warming in the micro. Yogurt would be easy and require no effort.

      You can also forget traditional breakfast foods and just take meat, potatoes, fried rice, etc.

      1. If you're not wedded to a sweet breakfast, and it's not too similar to your lunch, a bagel with plenty of smoked salmon and creme fraiche keeps me going till lunchtime.

        I also like full-fat cottage cheese or strained yoghurt with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of honey. (Actually I like full-fat cottage cheese or strained yoghurt with chaat masala and bhel puri, turning it into a savoury cereal, but then I'm not a fan of the sweet breakfast).

        1. Yogurt, fruit, nuts, bagel, cheese....
          or a frozen dinner.
          Breakfast is just what one eats after breaking a fast...

          1. Are you near a Trader Joe's? They make a really good frozen oatmeal single serving that you microwave and a better than nothing in a pinch frozen individual quiche that is also a microwave serving.. I don't think either one would suffer if slightly defrosted overnight but maybe their fridge has freezer room.

            1. Granola with yogurt and berries? It's what keeps me going every morning.

              1. What do you NORMALLY do for breakfast? Why is this a food challenge?

                As a starting point, think through what fast food places do for breakfasts: egg and cheese sandwiches on breads like bagels, English muffins, croissants, or biscuits with meats like sausage, bacon, ham, steak, and Canadian bacon.

                Think through this like a "Flip book" of choices-- choose the bread, the protein(s), and add any "fats" like mayo or cheese.

                I would also ask the Sleep Center about food -- do they want you to avoid carb loading? Low caffeine? Low sugar?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                  A lot of good ideas here, thanks!

                  To answer the question why it's a food challenge, breakfast for me is usually a bowl of Cheerios and blueberries if they're available and not outrageously priced. If I make eggs, they're either poached or scrambled, neither of which will travel well.

                  I'm just not one of those breakfast kinds of guys. The sleep center has said they want to see me eat something nutritious, and I thought it would be interesting to try my hand at something that folks think stands a good chance of traveling and reheating well without it being a Jimmy Dean frozen breakfast biscuit.

                  1. re: RelishPDX

                    Hard boiled eggs travel well. What about baked oatmeal and a hard boiled egg? You can doctor the oatmeal up and either eat cold or warmed in microwave. Cold, it's like an oatmeal cookie; warm, I like to pour milk over it.

                    1. re: RelishPDX

                      Make cheerio bars (ala rice krispies) with dried blueberries.

                  2. Before I retired, I had to get up very early and could not bear to eat breakfast until I was already working for a couple of hours. On weekends I frequently made a batch of breakfast burritos, along the lines of McDonalds but whole grain lavash, and better cheese. I'd roll the scrambled egg mixture into the lavash bread, wrap tightly in Saran Wrap, and freeze them. Before leaving
                    home, I;d grab a frozen one, and heat it in the office microwave later. Easy and neat to eat by peeling the wrap back but not removing it completely, to contain drips.

                    1. So the sleep center just called to confirm tomorrow night's tests and I grilled them a bit about breakfast. They said since the daytime test is mainly to rule out narcolepsy, it's done more on kids, teens, and young adults, where someone else would most likely be packing their food. I was told they've had problems in the past where kids get too fidgety if a proper meal isn't packed for their 7am breakfast, hence their emphasis on it being something substantial.

                      I looked through the fridge to see what might need using up, and there's a packet of pancetta I bought a couple of weeks ago that I don't now recall what for (don't you hate that?), which could easily go into a quiche. The decider will be if I can get a good blind bake in the Grab-It dishes or not, and I'll work on that tonight.

                      Breakfast burritos sound like a great back-up plan! I used to get those occasionally from a food truck that made the rounds when I worked in L.A. years ago. They'd be a great vehicle to use up my Mexican Rice experiments in the future, so I'm jotting that down as something to toy with regardless.

                      Cheerios and blueberry crispy bars? Hmm. That could be an interesting treat.

                      If all else fails, it'll have to be a quick stop at the Trader Joe's on my way over to the facility tomorrow night to see what's in the freezer case. I didn't realize they had so many types of breakfast things, since I usually don't each much before noon.

                      Thanks again for all the suggestions. They've got my creative juices flowing.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: RelishPDX

                        i had to do a sleep study a couple of years ago... i did the nighttime test, and the daytime test -- assuming you'd be doing the one where they wake you, keep you up for two hours, 20 minute nap, lather, rinse, repeat?

                        my facility didn't even mention food... how interesting. Honestly, i'm pretty sure you aren't going to be jonesing for a "real" breakfast after sleeping there. i'd keep it simple with some cereal/granola and yogurt. you can just munch the cereal out of the box... it's kind of a discombobulating day, assuming you're undergoing the test i did. i think i was out of there by 230/3 pm, and i def didn't think about food before later. then again, i don't know what your symptoms are.

                        other thoughts--
                        -i think in addition to breakfast burritos, you've also got breakfast quesadillas - easy to do in a micro, just pre stuff and melt there.
                        -or lox roll-ups - take a strip of lox, put a small cube of cream cheese, some minced tomato and onion, roll up into a coil. eat as is or on top of flax or Ak-Mak crackers.
                        -miso soup or tomato soup

                        good luck!

                        1. re: Emme

                          "assuming you'd be doing the one where they wake you, keep you up for two hours, 20 minute nap, lather, rinse, repeat?"


                          Yup, that's the one. Interesting your place didn't mention food. Perhaps there's an element of keeping kids occupied to it. You know how doctors are, never telling you the real reason for anything until it's all over with.

                          I still think it'll be smart to bring something to eat. Check-in starts at 9pm, so I'll have dinner around 7 tomorrow night to get there on time. I rarely eat that early, so I know I'll be hungry in the morning.

                          1. re: RelishPDX

                            you'll have about half an hour of getting hooked up to the overnight apnea machines. i know i conked out asap because i was off my anti-sleepy meds, but i'm sure you could have a snack after you arrive there in the evening. something like PB & J with crackers, or fruit and cheese, or cheese and crackers, or cookies and milk...

                            my place didn't handle kids, i don't think.

                            if you're thinking you're gonna be super hungry, maybe an egg salad sandwich - keep egg salad and bread separate... nuke each slightly to warm and sprinkle with salt :)
                            or a marinated sandwich that will be served well by sitting overnight.

                            9 pm is fortunate... i had to be there at 815 IIRC. and that night Obama was in town, shutting down all the roads. i had to come off of my meds for three days prior and was a right mess. i was panicked i wouldn't get there in time because the guy said if i was late, i'd have to reschedule. but i was determined to get there, come hell or high water, because there was no way i wanted to endure that pill-less torture again to prepare.

                            i know i had a lot of difficulty staying awake during the day trials, and the technician actually made me come sit out with him for a while. i imagine if you snack, you'll have less of this issue... if it even is an issue.

                            good luck! i hope they figure yours out!

                            1. re: Emme

                              Everything went really well, thanks!

                              Even though I don't eat all that much during the day usually, I ended up being ravenously hungry today, so I'm glad I brought food. Turns out they have a new toaster oven none of the tech people had told me about, so the ham n cheese croissants warmed up well.

                              I even found two recipes from this month's Sunset magazine I want to try while I was there. One is a steamed cod with a mirin/sake reduction plus other treats, and the other for tostados just like I remember them in the 60s, with a vinegar/onion dressing that I haven't run across since. So of course I had to stop at the store tonight to get fried tortillas, refried beans, avocados, tomatoes, etc. :)

                      2. A wedge of frittata, a piece of fruit, and a large bran muffin.

                        1. I make breakfast muffins for when we travel (waking up in the back of the 4Runner at the drag races and having to get cars ready with nothing more than a bbq to cook/ reheat on for days at a time.)

                          Its just torn up bread (even better if you buy off the day old rack since it absorbs liquid better,) cooked breakfast sausage (or pancetta or prosciutto or whatever is around,) and cheese mixed together and a few beaten eggs and milk added to it. I add Cajun seasoning mix but you can add whatever you like. Its best if you let that all soak for a few hours or overnight and then I scoop it into muffin tins and bake it at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until they're done. They've saved our starving rears more than once.

                          1. Just wanted to follow-up to let everyone know what I finally did.

                            I couldn't get a good blind bake that I'd trust in the Grab-It dish for quiche, I suspect because of the depth vs. the circumference. I did poke holes in the dough and put a light layer of beans down.

                            The quiche in the deli dept. at the store this morning looked really insipid, not anything I'd want to nuke.

                            While Plan B kicked in and I was filling my cart with stuff to make sausage and cheese quesadillas, I saw the bakery dept. put out a package of day-old half-size croissants. Light bulb!! Ham and cheese mini croissants! I just pulled one out of the oven as a test, and it looks and tastes lovely. I'll bet this will reheat well enough if I pre-bake them lightly to melt the cheese, then warm just a wee bit on Defrost instead of Hi tomorrow morning.

                            Thanks again for all of the great suggestions, I really appreciate it. All of the hot dish ideas sort of rolled into one by a stroke of luck, being at the right place at the right time.